Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New software brings science to life for young people

Date:
September 30, 2011
Source:
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Summary:
The use of new technology is helping students to become real ‘science investigators’. Researchers in the UK have developed a software toolkit that shows how such an approach sparks and sustains students’ interest in science.

The use of new technology is helping students to become real 'science investigators'. Researchers funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have developed a software toolkit that shows how such an approach sparks and sustains students' interest in science.

"Science can be hard to sell to young people as a subject for further education or as a career," says Professor Mike Sharples from Nottingham University who co-led the project. "But science shapes the world we live in. Today, people need the analytical tools to understand it and to see through the bad science propagated in the media."

The project shows that the nQuire software engages children's interest more effectively than traditional science lessons where teachers often dispense science facts from a classroom desk. By using mobile computing devices, the software allows students to go out and set up their own projects. They can both find and analyse the data and reach their own conclusions based on hypotheses which they have chosen themselves.

"The software is a high-tech twist on the traditional lesson plan -- guiding pupils through planning scientific experiments, collecting and analysing data and discussing the results," says Professor Eileen Scanlon, co-leader of the project from the Open University. "After using the programme, we found that students were better able to grasp the principles underpinning sound scientific practice."

School children in Nottingham and Milton Keynes used portable netbooks with built-in cameras, location sensors and voice recorders, as well as data probes for measuring atmospheric conditions. They went out into the playground, a local nature reserve and around their homes to gather data. Their netbooks were wirelessly linked together and their data readings of light, wind and temperature were updated to a central database, enabling the sharing and analysing of their findings back in class.

The software covers three key topics of the new science curriculum -- Myself, My Environment and My Community and requires the students to reason about the natural sciences as a complex system and to explore how others relate to the world around them. The programme also allows teachers to select and modify the scripts and to monitor and guide the students' activities. Projects using nQuire can also be taken home, helping integrate home and school learning and engage parents in the work.

The project showed how the programme not only had a positive effect on learning outcomes, but also led to sustained enjoyment of science lessons and a small but genuine improvement in pupils' understanding of the scientific process. Professor Sharples suggests that by supporting a process of enquiry, the software helps students develop an analytic attitude towards their lives. It encourages them to ask questions and to look for deeper reasons.

"Our study shows that this method of personal enquiry helps children develop the skills needed to understand the impact of science on everyday life and make better personal decisions about their own health, diet and their impact on the environment."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). "New software brings science to life for young people." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110930071703.htm>.
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). (2011, September 30). New software brings science to life for young people. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110930071703.htm
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). "New software brings science to life for young people." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110930071703.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Food Makers Surpass Calorie-Cutting Pledge

U.S. Food Makers Surpass Calorie-Cutting Pledge

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) Sixteen large food and beverage companies in the United States that committed to cut calories in their products far surpassed their target. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

AP (Sep. 17, 2014) The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it plans to keep a key interest rate at a record low because a broad range of U.S. economic measures remain subpar. Stocks hit an all-time high on the news. (Sept. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins